Joe Robbins | GEtt
INDIANAPOLIS – Chase McLaughlin was stepping into the shoes of the greatest kicker in NFL history.
Like the next closer replacing Mariano Rivera, taking over for Adam Vinatieri is quite the job interview.
Talk about some pressure.
McLaughlin, playing for his third team in his 2019 rookie season, gave the Colts exactly what Vinatieri wasn’t able to last season—consistency from the placekicking unit.
The undrafted rookie from Illinois went 8-of-8 on extra points and 7-of-8 on field goals, his lone miss coming from 47 yards out, while also making a pair of 50-yard field goals outdoors.
“I’m happy with Chase,” Chris Ballard said following the end to the 2019 season. “You come in and you have to follow Adam Vinatieri, you have to have a little something to you. He’s got a very calm demeanor. He’s got a good process that he goes through to kick. We like Chase.”
The Colts worked McLaughlin out two times before signing him late in the season as a nagging knee injury eventually sent Vinatieri to injured reserve.
Unquestionably, the Colts inability to taking advantage of the placekicking game cost them multiple games in 2019.
“Do we need to be better at making kicks? Absolutely, we do,” Ballard says. “Adam would tell you that. He’s very prideful. He would tell you that.
“Do I regret sticking with him? No. We worked out a ton of kickers (around 8 or 9). Adam was kicking great in practice. His practices were outstanding. I kept asking our group and Frank, ‘If Adam was working out with these group of kickers that we brought in Who would we pick?’ We would have picked Adam. I told Adam that. Every time we worked out kickers, I looked at Adam and said, ‘Adam, if I had to tell you who I was going to take out of this group, I’m taking you.’ Do I wish we would have produced more at that position? Yes, I do. But saying that, I do not regret the decisions we made for Adam. Not at all.”
Vinatieri, 47, is now a free agent as he rehabs surgery from December.
Both parties must make a decision on what 2020 holds for Vinatieri:
-Does he want to play a 25th season?
-Do the Colts want to give him another contract, now that they have another seemingly viable option?
Following the end to 2019, McLaughlin signed a one-year deal to remain with the Colts.
Does that mean he’s the kicker of the future in replacing the GOAT?